Thursday, August 19, 2021

The Hermeneutics of George E Ladd

The following is an older article by Mike Vlach on Ladd's hermenutics. 

As I continue my discussion on Historic Premillennialism (HP), I want to focus my thoughts on the hermeneutics of HP’s #1 defender in the 20th century—George Ladd. Specifically, I want to address Ladd’s views on how the New Testament (NT) uses the Old Testament (OT). Since Ladd is often looked to as a primary leader of HP, his views on hermeneutics should be examined to help us understand HP or at least modern expressions of HP...keep reading

Long Addendum:

Someone left a comment taking issue as to whether Ladd was really Classic Historic Premil (HP). They referred me to an article on Lynda's blog HERE

Over the years I've noted that many futuristic premil posttribulationists identify as HP or Classic HP. Some of them have been from the prewrath camp (PW). One case in point is the Orange Mailman who challenged Mike Vlach's position on Ladd. See HERE and do a search on Mike's blog

I assume identifying as HP may be a rapture timing thing; an appeal to historic legitimacy - dispensationalism and the pretrib rapture being "new ideas." Ladd's "The Blessed Hope" has been recommended reading within the posttrib and prewrath community. Yet George Ladd differed in various ways to current futuristic premil thinking, aside from his hermeneutics and views on Israel. 

But, in fact, Craig Blomberg (HP) regarded Ladd as a scholar who overshadowed the rest. I disagree with Blomberg's views on Israel and dispensationalism (and his use of NT over the OT) and addressed some of this HERE. Sadly a few links no longer work. This is what I noted at the time,

Dr Blomberg chides outright replacement theology by pointing to sufficient OT evidence indicating that national Israel has some future in the Millennium. He even points out that RT has led to anti-Semitism. This is an important admission which I’ll explore in a later post. He affirms that George Ladd is a scholar who overshadows the rest and, like Dr Ladd, he fails to see a necessity for either a Temple, or national Israel in Palestine prior to the Millennium. He punctuates that point several times.

The question arises - what defines Historic Premillennialism or Classic Historic Premil? 

In my understanding many CHPs (the Bonars, Spurgeon etc) were at least partial historicists. They were informed by their Covenant Theology and this affected their hermeneutics. For more on CT and its hermeneutics see the book "Forsaking Israel."

From some of Spurgeon's comments it's evident he viewed the church as Spiritual Israel even though he saw a future redemption of ethnic Israel. These older HPs regularly applied OT texts addressing Israel, to the church. Was this for the sake of sermon lessons or did they see Israel as the OT church? Did they see the Jews one day becoming a part of True Spiritual Israel (the Church including saved Gentiles)? I suspect so. 

In conclusion, that George E. Ladd was HP is unavoidable in my opinion. I also wonder what he thought preparation for death, martyrdom, Antichrist etc actually looked like, aside from his opposition to pretribulationism.


David Peña said...

There is something that must be made very clear: Ladd IS NOT a PH. Even Lynda O has an article where she discredits him as such:

Alf Cengia said...

Yes, I think I've seen Lynda's article in the past.

A few years ago I read a number of articles by someone - the name escapes me now - who spent a lot of time tracking what different proponents of HP thought through the years. There is diversity there. So the questions becomes (at least for me): who defines HP?

Moreover, over the years various people who identified as HP premils have looked upon Ladd favorably. Some of these held to the prewrath and posttrib views. I could say more here. But I think Mike is right. Ladd is HP.

David Peña said...

That's how I see it:

Historical and dispensational premillennialists:

a) Judeo-centric approach to prophecy

b) They are not one-text premillennialists

c) Grammatical-historical hermeneutics

Ladd deliberately violated these points. That is why it is difficult for me to see it as a HP. There is a modern form of non-Judeo-centric single text spiritualizing premillennialism that should be distinguished from the true HP.

Alf Cengia said...

Unfortunately most HP proponents of the past were covenant theologians. This affected how they addressed some prophetic texts, especially regarding Israel. Even the early church fathers who were premil tended to say that the church was true Israel. Read the book "Forsaking Israel."

David Peña said...

Bookman does an excellent job. On the other hand, it is true that there was spiritualization and supercessionism in the HP, and while it is true that they were not as literalistic as the dispensationalists, they were at least Judeocentric in some things, something that is lacking in many modern "premillennialists".

David Peña said...

By the way, I don't know if you have considered the powerful possibility that the Martyrs are an exclusively Jewish group and not predominantly Gentile as has been thought, based on the connection between Revelation 12:17 and 13: 7. We see the Dragon fail in its attempt to devour the Woman when she flees into the desert. It is then that he turns against the '' offspring '' of Woman. But we see that the Dragon himself is not the one who attacks the offspring of the Woman, but the Beast who conquers the saints. Are the saints of 13: 7 the same offspring of the Woman of 12:17? If it is, and if the Apocalypse has the martyrs as an essentially Jewish group in essence, then this would contradict the position of the post-tribulationists and pre-wraths to identify the Church (a mainly Gentile group) with the martyrs, but it would prove that the pre-trib position that the church is totally absent in 4-22 is correct, since it could be pointed out that the various groups of saints that appear in Revelation (the Martyrs, the 144,000, the Woman, the Two Witnesses) They are not the Church, but saved groups from Israel.

Wow! This is amazing! and it also sheds a lot of light on how post-tribers and pre-wraths have kept the Church in Revelation ... through replacement theology!

Alf, if you could delve into this in an article, I would really appreciate it.

Alf Cengia said...

You make some interesting observations. I don't know whether I could write a drop dead compelling article on it, though. I'm still thinking through lot of things.

The prewrath camp insists God's wrath cannot be present before the 7th seal because of the 5th seal martyrs and their petition for vengeance (among other things). PWs claim pretribbers haven't responded. I saw this posted in a Facebook group (again) recently. Either they haven't done their homework, or they choose to ignore what has been said and pretend it doesn't exist.

Renald Showers has responded and I've blogged on it. In any case, even prewrathers generally accept that there will be new believers after the rapture who would subsequently endure God's wrath. The martyrs' plea for vengeance echoes Habakkuk who complained to God the He used a worse group of people - than Israel - as instruments of divine wrath. The response was that God would then punish these same people. So I see no issue with God's wrath being present during the 5th seal (which doesn't directly cause the saints' deaths).

Furthermore, I've always wondered about the martyrs' plea for vengeance. Dare I say that this departs from a Christianly perspective? Buist Fanning has addressed this but I'm not entirely convinced. Is there a Jewish flavor here? I wouldn't die on a hill for it. I see Israel heavily represented in Revelation (though the events are universal) whereas others focus on the church. My opinion.